LEADERS SPIN, SCHIE WINS LIME ROCK, Conn. (May 25) - Thomas Schie, though starting fourth, was going to be happy if he ''could just finish on the podium'' in the Barber Dodge Pro Series race at Lime Rock Park. Lime Rock's high speeds and lack...
LEADERS SPIN, SCHIE WINS LIME ROCK, Conn. (May 25) - Thomas Schie, though starting fourth, was going to be happy if he ''could just finish on the podium'' in the Barber Dodge Pro Series race at Lime Rock Park. Lime Rock's high speeds and lack of threshold braking areas make passing very difficult. ''You must be very, very lucky to win from other than the front row,'' he said. Well, lucky and good. Schie, the 1996 Barber Dodge championship runner-up, won a rain-shortened but nonetheless exciting race by staying on the road while the leaders fell off in front of him. Combined with his third place at the season opener in Sebring, won by Todd Snyder, Schie is now just two points behind Snyder in the championship. The Lime Rock race also proved that late addition Rino Mastronardi, the 1997 five-time race winner and championship runner-up, is going to be as much of a threat as any of this year's frontrunners.
It was the largest field at Lime Rock in Barber Dodge's 13-year history---31 starters---but the entire field made it through Turn 1, the order the same as they qualified: Nicolas Rondet, Shane Donley, Mastronardi, Schie. The only difference was sixth-starting Snyder had wiggled past number five Rocky Moran, Jr. Everyone held station as Rondet, the '97 Rookie of the Year, put a big gap between himself and Donley through the first lap. But Mastronardi, who won this race last year, immediately pounced on Donley, the "Rio Big Scholarship" driver. On lap 2 he got under Donley going into Big Bend, for second place. He slowly reeled Rondet in, as it looked like Rondet's handling was going away. More and more oversteer was clearly visible, and by lap 14 Mastronardi challenged Rondet on the outside going through Big Bend. Rondet had to give it up by the exit of Two, and we had a new leader. Schie meanwhile dispatched Donley, also down the inside at Big Bend, on lap 6.
As Rino drove away, Schie closed dramatically on Rondet. Rondet did what he could with his loose car (a scary thing to have at Lime Rock), but he succumbed to Schie's pressure on lap 22, going off in Big Bend, re-joining in eighth. Snyder and Sepp Koster were battling heavily for fifth and sixth (Moran had been in that fight but dropped wheels at the chicane, and then slid off somewhere else and was no longer a factor), and that now became for fourth and fifth.
Then a lot of things happened at once. For Schie, I guess you can call this the lucky part: It started to rain, lightly, during lap 23. Usually, with a hot track and hot tires, a little rain won't change things dramatically right at that instant. Not this time. The track became a Slippery Slide in a heartbeat. Among a multitude of drivers loosing it, Jarrett Boon crashed in the Uphill; Victor Gonzalez and Nilton Rossoni banged wheels and slid into the Turn 1 escape road; Donley looped it coming out of West Bend to give third to Snyder; and Mastronardi got too high in the Lefthander and slid off into the grass, handing the lead to Schie. By the end of that lap, the stewards called for a full-course yellow, to not only retrieve Boon's car, but to see if the rain would lighten up. After a few caution laps, it was obvious it was too wet for Michelin's slicks, and there was no time to swap the field over to the wets. Schie had his win, Snyder second, Mastronardi third.
Schie said, ``I had some moments right after the rain started, but I kept it on. I don't think I had anything for Rino if it had stayed dry, but second was going to be good, too. Get some good points in Detroit, this is a start to the year like I wanted.''
The same could be said for Snyder, on the comeback trail after seven years. He's still in the catbird seat. Mastronardi? Over the winter he never found enough money for a proper Indy Lights campaign, but was unsure if a third year in Barber Dodge was right. But he had heard good things about the Reynard Dodge, and he had only missed one race (you gotta drop two, anyway), and if he did come back, it would be at Lime Rock, where he had won handily last year. . .the Sirens sang, and Mastronardi succumbed. First time he had seen the car in the flesh was Friday. Then he stuck it third on the grid Saturday. Yea, I think he can drive. And contend mightily for the title.
Results Monday of 30-lap Barber Dodge Pro Series race at Lime Rock Park, 1.54-mile, 8-turn road course, with starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown or country, winner's average speed, laps completed (reason out, if any) and prize money. All cars identical Reynard Dodge V6, open-wheel, single-seat race cars on Michelin racing tires.
1 (4) Thomas Schie, Norway, 81.772 mph, 30 laps, $12,000 2 (6) Todd Snyder, Sheffield, Mass., 30, $8,000 3 (3) Rino Mastronardi, Italy, 30, $6,000 4 (8) Sepp Koster, The Netherlands, 30, $4,000 5 (2) Shane Donley, Las Vegas, 30, $2,500 6 (7) Will Langhorne, Washington, D.C., 30, $2,000 7 (11) Giovanni Anapoli, Italy, 30, $1,800 8 (14) Martin Stenshorne, Norway, 30, $2,200 9 (17) Eric Tresslar, Denver, 30, $1,600 10 (9) Jeff Simmons, Granby, Conn., 30, $1,500 11 (23) Owen McAuley, Ireland, 30, $1,400 12 (18) Tom Woods, Rancho Cordova, Calif., 30, $1,300 13 (22) Townsend Bell, Santa Barbara, Calif., 30, $1,200 14 (15) Samer Hindi, Los Angeles, 30, $1,100 15 (1) Nicolas Rondet, Brazil, 30, $1,000 16 (25) Peter Boss, Narragansett, R.I., 30, $500 17 (26) Giovanni Gulinelli, Italy, 30, $500 18 (12) Jon Fogarty, Portola Valley, Calif., 30, $500 19 (10) Alex Gurney, Newport Beach, Calif., 30, $500 20 (5) Rocky Moran, Jr., Coto de Caza, Calif., 30, $500 21 (31) Nilton Rossoni, Brazil, 30, $500 22 (24) Brian Pelke, Lansing, Ill., 30, $500 23 (21) Jamie Menninga, Pella, Iowa, 30, $500 24 (20) Memo Rojas, Jr., Mexico, 30, $500 25 (16) G.J. Mennen, Jr., Austin, Texas, 29, $500 26 (13) Victor Gonzalez, Jr., Hatoray, Puerto Rico, 29, $500 27 (29) Gregg Borland, Elkhart Lake, Wis., 29, $500 28 (30) Scott Mayer, Franklin, Wis., 28, $500 29 (28) Charles Willis, Germantown, Tenn., 28, $500 30 (19) John McCaig, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, 28, $500 31 (27) Jarrett Boon, Phoenix, 22 (accident), $500
Race length: 33:53.950 (30 laps) Winner's Average Speed: 81.772 mph Margin of Victory: Finished Under Yellow Leaders: Rondet, 1 - 13; Mastronardi, 14 - 23; Schie, 24 - 30 Fastest Race Lap: Jeff Simmons, 54.948 (100.895 mph), lap 9 Pole: Rondet, 54.194 (102.299 mph) Most Progressive Driver: Owen McAuley, 23rd to 11th
POINTS AFTER 2 OF 12 ROUNDS:
1. Todd Snyder 36 2. Thomas Schie 34 3. Victor Gonzalez, Jr. 16 4. Rino Mastronardi 14 5. Sepp Koster 13 6. Samer Hindi 13 7. G.J. Mennen, Jr. 12 8. Shane Donley 12 9. Tom Woods 12 10.Will Langhorne 10
Next race: Detroit, June 7